In the United Kingdom, May 21st-27th is known as Dementia Awareness Week, later on, renamed Dementia Action Week. This has been done in hopes of raising more awareness and funds for dementia in the UK.
An editor from Healthista, Anna Magee, spoke with Britain's leading authorities on ways to prevent dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia has been classified as a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is not classified as a disease but more-so a term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells, which interferes with the brain cells' ability to communicate with each other.
The two most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases, and vascular dementia, that can occur after a person suffers from a stroke.
Symptoms of dementia can vary but one of the main mental functions has to be impaired for a person to be considered to have dementia. These functions include visual perception, communication and language, and memory.
6 Ways To Prevent Dementia
In the next ten years, it is hoped that more information about dementia will be known. Meanwhile, various studies, including the PREVENT trial, is looking to test the brain and cognitive functions of people between the ages of 40-59.
The leader of the trial, Professor Craig Ritchie, stated that he will be conducting brain imaging, blood markers, spinal fluid, and complex cognitive tests to measure people's brain function during the middle age years.
Ritchie, the professor of Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, continued that the aim is to give people who may be at risk of dementia helpful ways to prevent it.
The professor stated that mental stimulation, cognitive reserve, taking aspirin, fish oil intake, taking care of the heart, and drinking at least three glasses of champagne a week are proven ways to help a person from developing dementia. He elaborated that exercising and sticking to a Mediterranean diet are also beneficial.
What Does This Mean For The Future?
Simon Lovestone, a professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, stated that dementia and Alzheimer's disease starts long before it can be detected.
Last August, the University of Oxford launched a study funded by the Medical Research Council that plans to identify biomarkers, which can find the occurrence of dementia or Alzheimer's disease in the early stages.
"If we can identify the biomarkers present in this very early stage, we have the chance of developing drugs that treat the disease early, thus preventing damage to people's memory and thinking," Lovestone commented.